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Will the Falcons be able to withstand a loss to the Saints on Thanksgiving?

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Could Thursday be the straw that broke the camel’s back?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

How do you feel about the Atlanta Falcons playing on Thanksgiving this year? Nervous? Happy? Frustrated that indigestion might come at the hand of Freddie Falcon instead of the turkey in your stomach?

Imagine that frustration and fear tenfold in the stomach of Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

His franchise, a relative model of consistency and quality over the last decade, has fallen on hard times, only spurring up some brief excitement in a November resurgence that failed once more against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Now the Saints are coming. The Saints are going to be angry and hungry for revenge after the Falcons, out of nowhere, pulled their pants down in front of the Superdome crowd.

Bitterness in the past and present

Last year’s Saints Turkey Day fiasco was a franchise low moment, a cavalcade of embarrassment for a team that really didn’t need any more after nearly two years of Super Bowl jokes.

We’ve been discussing all season long if Dan Quinn and the rest of this coaching staff and front office is going to make it out of the season as members of the Falcons, and the two November wins made you consider that being a distinct possibility.

Last Sunday’s snafu revived the question, and a resounding thud Thursday might answer it.

Blank is a patient, reasonable owner, and he’s going to make a wise decision for the team when late December comes. If the team gets drubbed by the archrival on national television for a second year in a row, the decision might already be made for him.

The Falcons only have so much they can lean on with so many injuries and coaching switcheroos this year, and it was fair to wonder if the Saints and Panthers victories from this month were just flashes in the cruel, cruel pan. Getting pounded by the Bucs at home might’ve just answered that.

If the team puts forth a firm, clean effort, even a close loss will be serviceable, especially for an owner who appears to be looking for a reason not to make a major change, especially now. If Michael Thomas is close to 200 receiving yards and Taysom Hill is flexing on our end zone, it won’t go well for anyone involved.

Thursday night’s game does not mean much for the Falcons, who are basically eliminated from this year’s playoffs with its awful record. But it means a lot for guys who want to keep working in Atlanta next year. We’ve written this a lot this year, but bad loss might be what gets pink slips sent around Flowery Branch. Blank can’t take any more embarrassment, and he shouldn’t have to. This team is too talented to get spanked by the Saints in front of a national audience.

Let’s hope they don’t.